The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton is such an epic, beautiful, and breathtaking story, I feel that my meager review cannot do it justice. But, alas, I shall attempt it.
Tamsen Littlejohn finds herself subject to the schemes of Hezekiah Parrish, her stepfather. He plans for her advantageous marriage in post-Revolutionary North Carolina. Paired with his ill treatment of her mother, Tamsen at first attempts to placate the situation with her agreement to consider marrying wealthy Ambrose Kincaid.
As Tamsen begins to suspect there is more to her stepfather’s agreement than she knows, she becomes caught up in some chaotic events. (I don’t want to reveal more!) Unexpectedly finding an ally in the mysterious frontier man Jesse Bird, she takes the opportunity to flee with him to the west through the wild Blue Ridge Mountains. Forced to rely on the kindness of a stranger, Tamsen is guided by Jesse as they make their way through rough country. They must skirt hostile Indians, suspicious settlers, endure the harsh change of seasons in the mountains, and evade Parrish and Kincaid, who are pursuing them vehemently.
Through this journey, Tamsen learns more of the considerate man who’s come to her aid. Jesse Bird, a white man raised by the Shawnee (and now friends to the Cherokee), shows the simplicity of mountain living to Tamsen. As they realize God’s provision and the potential of their relationship, the mystery of Jesse’s past and Tamsen’s pursuers threaten to converge with frontier conflicts in the area, testing the faith and endurance of all involved.
Lori has written an action-packed story, complete with quiet, restful moments that expose the beauty of the wild, untamed – and unsettled – land. Tamsen and Jesse’s journey is an epic story that transports the readers to the mountainous settings of North Carolina and Tennessee. Having family in that region myself, I can attest to unique and often treacherous terrain Lori vividly describes. Her flowing writing style really immerses the reader in the story.
Lori’s inclusion of a piece of forgotten history, the almost 14th State of Franklin, adds an interesting backdrop to Tamsen and Jesse’s stories. In this region, two states were claiming the land, residents — and any applicable taxes– as their own: North Carolina and Franklin. This political unrest combined with the threat of hostile Indians added action, excitement, and tension to the story. And trust me, there already WAS tension with the pursuit of Parrish and Kincaid! Also, some minor historical details add to the story, such as the issue and discussion of slavery, Indian traditions, the displacement of Native Americans, and the expansion of the frontier.
In addition to an “Overmountain” journey, the characters of The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn travel on an inward journey, making startling discoveries about their heritages and true desires for the future. It’s delightful to see Tamsen and Jesse’s relationship evolve. What they first thought would be a convenient and comfortable friendship slowly develops into serious feelings of attraction and love. Also, the mystery surrounding several of the characters’ early lives was cleverly woven throughout the story.
A fitting sentiment conveyed with this story is that the past does have some bearing on our identity, but God’s direction and our decisions determine who we are now, in the present, with the people around us. It’s important that we live in the present, looking toward the future God has for us – and His plans for our good.
I would really love to see this novel as a miniseries. I think it would be FABULOUS! Just seeing Lori Benton’s Pinterest board for the novel has me ready to volunteer as a crew member in the miniseries (are you listening, Hallmark Channel?). I’ve read in friends’ reviews and comments that this novel reminded them of “The Last of the Mohicans” or “Courting Morrow Little” by Laura Frantz (one of my personal faves). I have to agree, in part. But The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn perfectly fits in its own niche among Native-American-influenced-heroes-rescuing-ladies-in-the-wilderness stories. It is certainly one of my new favorites in the historical romance genre!
You can find all kinds of fun extras on Lori’s website, like a link to read the first two chapters of The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn and where to find out more about the history behind the State of Franklin. Also, connect with her on her Facebook page here.
“Trust in the Almighty, in His love for you, and you’ll have no need to dread anything He allows to befall you. For with a test, a trial, He gives an equal measure of grace to bear it and the comfort of His fellowship as He strengthens us.” –Lori Benton, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
Note: Thank you to the publisher for a complimentary copy in exchange for a review! I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.
Do you have a favorite historical romance novel? Is it set in the same era?